When a police officer suspects that a driver has been operating his or her vehicle under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, they will often ask them to perform a field sobriety test. My office consistently advises our clients to refuse to submit to such testing. However, more often then not, drivers will do as they are asked. Submission to such a test, especially if you have been drinking is likely to result in your arrest for DUI. In Pennsylvania, field sobriety tests are not mandated by law. You have no obligation to submit to them. They are used by the police to establish probable cause in order to arrest you for DUI and WILL be used against you at trial to justify your arrest.
Field sobriety tests are designed so that a police officer will be able to pick out certain physical characteristics of intoxication. Officers will employ such tests as the standing on one leg test where police instruct the suspect to stand on one leg, with the other foot suspended about 6 inches off the ground and count aloud. The officer will then time the suspect for thirty seconds. The officer is looking for indicators of impairment such as swaying while balancing, using arms to balance, hopping to maintain balance, not counting in order and putting the suspended foot down. Attempting to perform this test sober is difficult for many people and if you have been drinking will be nearly impossible.
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